This is simply a listing of what is on my bookshelf at this point in time and stray thoughts on these works. The list does not purport to be exhaustive or even authoritative, although I did make some attempt to organize it by topic. I notice that I tend to have good luck with stuff published by Billboard and Writer's Digest but your mileage may vary.
Amram, David Vibrations (New York, NY: MacMillan Company, 1968)
An exceptionally talented and versatile artist shares his thoughts and the story of his life in music with warmth and wisdom. Can be hard to find but worth the search. Expresses things I thought inexpressible regarding how music touches our souls.
Cantwell, Robert When We Were Good: The Folk Revival (Cambridge, MA; Harvard University Press, 1996)
The author is a professor at the University of North Carolina and this is definitely a "scholarly" book, verging on being a textbook. There's a lot of information here on the cultural influences which shaped the folk music of the Sixties. I found some of it fascinating and some of it more than I ever wanted to know.
Danne, Fredric Hit Men (New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1991) $11.00
When this book was brought to my attention, I was cautioned not to read it unless I wanted to leave the music business. This journalist's research into Music Row is unlikely to have made him any friends there but it does make for a fascinating read. For anyone who has dreamed of having a record deal and feels all their extensive efforts have met with indifference, read this book - you'll be glad you don't have a deal!
Escott, Colin Tattooed on Their Tongues (New York, NY: Schirmer books, 1996) $25.00
Tales of the greats and wannabes in popular music over the last fifty-plus years. I was intrigued by this book but I admit to a bit of the taste for the gossip columnist.
Farr, Jory Moguls and Madmen (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1994) $23.00
More focused on rock than anything else but still a fascinating chronicle of what one man thinks goes on in the industry. The single trot down a country lane is on Jimmy Bowen - and I'm willing to bet this isn't his favorite book.
Knoedelseder, William Stiffed: The True Story of MCA, the Music Business and the Mafia (New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 1993)
Want to know just how ugly it can get out there in the big, bad world? Have I got a book for you…
Haring, Bruce Off the Charts (New York, NY: Birch Lane Press, 1996)
An entertainment reporter chronicles the internal machinations of the "Big 6" record labels. It is pretty chilling reading and I wasn't surprised to note a nod in the acknowledgements to Fredric Dannen of Hit Men.
Makower, Joel Woodstock: The Oral History (New York, NY: Doubleday, 1989)
You won't have to go too far into this bibliography to discover I think Woodstock to be a topic of abiding interest. After all, it isn't that often that something with all the earmarks of a monster disaster becomes one of the most enduring musical experiences of our lifetime. The interviews with everyone from promoter to carpenter to performer must have been a monumental task and makes for great reading. Excellent pictures.
Marsh, Dave (Editor) Mid-Life Confidential: the Rock Bottom Reminders Tour America with Three Chords and an Attitude (New York, NY: Viking Books, 1994)
A collection of writers, including Dave Barry, Amy Tan, Robert Fulghum, Steven King and the author (amongst others), join forces to bring their passion for rock and roll to the stage. I can't even begin to tell you what a grand book this is and there are more than a few great truths about music amongst the very snappy writing.
Roseman, Joel Young Men With Unlimited Capital (New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1974)
This is the story of how Woodstock came to be told by the two primary promoters. Both of these guys are enthralling writers and the story verges on the unbelievable. I found it the most optimistic book I ever read since it depicts how a group of folks who really didn't have a clue regarding how to put together a musical event (and were apparently totally lacking in even the most minimal amount of common sense) created one of the most important musical happenings in our lifetime.
Shelton, Robert (Text) and Gahr, David (Photography) The Face of Folk Music (New York, NY: The Citadel Press, 1968)
Out of print and hard to find, this magnificent volume chronicles the 60's perfectly. With 500 photographs in 372 pages, this book will make you resonate with the feelings from that era even if you can't remember a thing!
Spitz, Bob Barefoot in Babylon (New York, NY: W.W. Norton, 1979)
Another telling of the Woodstock tale in a lot more detail and perhaps more objectivity than Roseman's book. An interesting juxtaposition.
Woliver, Robbie Hoot!: A 25-Year History of the Greenwich Village Music Scene (New York, NY: St. Martin's Press, 1986)
Having purchased Gerde's Folk City in NY in 1980, Woliver then turned his love of folk music into interviewing a vast number of the performers who passed through those portals. The result is an amazing collection of anecdotes from several decades from a formidable list of very familiar names and some great photos. I loved every minute of it.
Baskerville, David Music Business Handbook & Career Guide (Los Angeles, CA: The Sherwood Company, 1985)
This seems to be almost a text book for a course. I've found it to be an excellent reference book for looking things up.
Dearing, James W. Making Money Making Music (No Matter Where You Live) (Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books, 1990)
Highly readable and exceptionally down to earth, this treasure is virtually a blueprint on how to put together a successful career. Even a veteran in the business will find a new approach or two in here. This is the first book you should buy.
Halloran, Mark, Editor The Musician's Business and Legal Guide (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1991) $29.95
This collection of articles written by lawyers, musicians, promoters, etc. is a wealth of knowledge all in one place. It was complied by the Beverly Hills Bar Association Committee for the Arts and is eminently readable, either straight through or bit by bit. Since there are a myriad of authors, diverse writing styles make sure you never get bored. This is my #3 "Gotta Have" book.
Hollan, James The Concert Book: The Fund Raiser's Detailed Guide for Arranging Special Events (Chicago, Il: Bonus Books, 1999)
The Truth in Advertising disclaimer: Jim Hollan is a friend and I have worked with him on several large special events over the years. He is also one of the most articulate and creative people that I know. This book is a step-by-step guide to using a concert to raise money by following the staging of an actual concert (in which we were both involved) done in 1997 with Ray Charles. I even did a Q&A for the book as a "production specialist". (Probably hard to find in stores: check out www.bonus-books.com)
Kozak, Ellen Every Writer's Guide to Copyright and Publishing Law (New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company, 1996) $9.95
This may be way too much information unless you have a specific reason for wanting to know about copyrights. It happens to be an interest of mine, if only because I think this kind of knowledge is basic to protecting yourself and your intellectual property.
Monaco, Bob and Riordan, James The Platinum Rainbow (Sherman Oaks, CA: Swordsman Press, 1980) $9.95
It is difficult for me to imagine anyone in the music business who was so out of touch with what's happening that they would find anything in this book new or enlightening. Although amusingly written, I found most of these truths to be self-evident.
Passman, Donald All You Need To Know About the Music Business (New York, NY: Prentice Hall, 1991) $24.95
If you are only ever going to buy one book to help you muddle through the intricacies of any kind of deal (record, publishing, etc.), this is it. Donald Passman writes in plain English, using clear examples and giving sample figures. A godsend of a book and the second volume that you should own. (There are updates out there now)
Rogers, Kenny and Epand, Len Making It with Music (New York, NY: Harper & Row Publishers, 1978)
I never expected to ever express warm, friendly feelings toward anything connected with Kenny Rogers but this book actually has some pretty sound advice. You could do a good deal worse than follow his outline of how to build a career.
Schwartz, Daylle Deanna The Real Deal: How to Get Signed to a Record Label from A to Z (New York, NY: Billboard Books, 1997) $16.95
This book covers a whole lot more than how to pitch your recording to a label. She covers everything you need to do to make your act attractive to a label, including career development to a level that makes you a viable act to sign. I was pleasantly surprised with how broad she was in tackling the topic.
Shemel, Sidney and M. William Krasilovsky This Business of Music (New York, NY: Billboard Publications, Inc., 1991) $22.95
I never did muster up the stamina to read this book cover to cover but I refer to it regularly when I have specific questions. It's kind of like the encyclopedia - you absorb it in bite-size pieces as you are ready to do so.
Weissman, Dick The Music Business: Career Opportunities and Self-Defense (New York, NY: Crown Books, 1990) $10.95
This is an update of a book originally published in 1979, covering virtually every occupation in the music business. Since we are only talking 264 pages here, obviously it does not do so in any great depth but it is a wonderful overview of all the various players in the wonderful world of music.
Wilson, Lee Making It In the Music Business (New York, NY: Plume, 1995) $12.95
This lady really knows her way around Nashville and the legal aspects of the music industry. She raises issues that you likely haven't even thought about (and you need to) and provides some solutions in a clear and interesting style. More than worth the price of admission.
Cohen, Herb You Can Negotiate Anything (Secacus, NJ: Lyle Stuart Inc, 1980)
A very readable, common-sense approach to the art of negotiation. If I could only have one book in this category, this would probably be the one.
Hyde, Lewis The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property (New York, NY: Random House, 1979)
To say that this is quite different from anything else in this category is under-stating things somewhat. This book was recommended to me by Bob Franke during a discussion on balancing the creative side of your craft with the need to market it. This philosophical discussion of the relationship between art and the world of commerce is not an easy read but presents a myriad of fascinating concepts to ponder.
Matthews, Douglas Sue The B*st*rds (New York, NY: Arbor House Publishing Company, 1973)
Addresses that question that inevitably eventually arises in the music world, "Is it worth going to Small Claims Court over this?". This book does a fine job of both answering that question and also helping you focus your energy on either getting something done or getting on with your life.
Peters, Tom The Pursuit of WOW! (New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1994)
I'm quite fond of most everything Peters has ever written and I always seem to learn something new from him. This collection of observations, tips and philosophy was particularly inspiring to me.
Willingham, Ron Hey, I'm The Customer (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1992) $9.95
The blurb says that this book is aimed at "customer service people". To my mind we all have "customers" no matter what we call them: audiences, clients, talent buyers, etc. All too often, we forget the lessons learned about how to treat people from when we are the "customer". This book does a fine job of putting us back in touch with those important concepts.TOP
Farber, Donald C. Common Sense Negotiation (Seattle, WA: Bay Press, Inc., 1996) $15.95
An entertainment lawyer shares his philosophy of doing business. The slant is toward the theatre but it works for the entertainment industry in general. A useful book and it made me feel good about being in the same business with this guy. Add it to your library but don't pay full price.
Frascogna, Xavier Jr. And Hetherington, H. Lee Successful Artist Management (New York, NY: Billboard Publications, 1990) $14.95
A standard - buy it, read it.
Goldstein, Jeri How to Be Your Own Booking Agent (Charlottesville, VA: The New Music Times, Inc., 1998)
Jeri has put together a well-designed, highly informative book that covers every topic you can think of and a few you never considered. Her writing is clear, understandable and entertaining. Although aimed at the artist, it is hard to imagine anyone in the music industry who wouldn't find this book useful.
Rose, Frank The Agency (New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 1995) $30.00
Want to find out how the other half lives? As this book about the William Morris Agency makes clear, they are certainly powerful and influential enough to be 50% (or more) all by themselves.
Shagan, Rena The Road Show (New York, NY: American Council for the Arts, 1985)
I bought this right when I was starting out and it was helpful then. For where I am now, it really isn't all that relevant.
Levine, Michael Guerrila P.R. (New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 1993) $12.00
I found this very useful. Lots of good, sensible information and suggestions on approach. He give concrete examples and tells great stories.
Levinson, Jay Conrad Guerrila Marketing (Cambridge, MA: Houghton
Mifflin Company, 1984)
Levinson, Jay Conrad Guerrila Marketing Attack (Cambridge, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1989) $8.95
Levinson, Jay Conrad Guerrila Weapons (New York, NY: Plume Books, 1990) $10.00
Levinson's rallying cry is "make big profits from your small business" and I find his writings are great for helping you do just that. There may be something to be said for the possibility that he is somewhat milking the concept but I always found a new slant to getting the creative marketing juices flowing in each of these books.
Pettigrew, Jr., Jim The Billboard Guide to Music Publicity (New York, NY: Billboard Books, 1989) $14.95
This is the real deal - good information, well organized. Look for an update - someone probably has told the author about computers, desktop publishers and scanners by now but the basic concepts are still valid.
Pinskey, Raleigh The Zen of Hype (New York, NY: Citadel Press, 1991) $10.95
If you truly know nothing about publicity and suddenly woke up this morning with a driving urge to become a publicist, this the answer to the question. However, you'll outgrow this one pretty quickly.
Ries, Al and Trout, Jack Positioning: The Battle for your Mind (New
York, NY: Warner Books, 1986) $5.99
Ries, Al and Trout, Jack The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing (New York, NY: Harper Collins Books, 1993) $20.00
These two books convey many of the same concepts. 22 is kind of a Cliff's Notes for Positioning.
Brahms, Caryl and Sherrin, Ned Song By Song (Great Britain: Ross Anderson Publications, 1984
A look at the great lyricists: Gershwin, Porter, Harbvurg and eleven others. How could you go wrong?
Davis, Sheila The Songwriters Idea Book (Cincinnati, Ohio: Writer's Digest Books, 1992) $17.95
This book outlines strategies that are aimed at keeping the creative fires burning. As a non-songwriter, I sometimes felt a little lost with these very specific exercises and descriptions but I thought the whole concept of "whole brain thinking" was fascinating. The author give many examples throughout.
Davis, Sheila The Craft of Lyric Writing (Cincinnati, Ohio: Writer's Digest Books, 1985) $19.95
This is a useful, step-by-step guide that spells out the basics and give lots of examples to illustrate the different points. She delves into pretty much every aspect of lyrics including titles, endings, use of emotion - you name it.
Horstman, Dorothy Sing Your Heart Out, Country Boy (Nashville, TN: Country Music Foundation Press, 1996) $24.95
The words to more songs than you would have believed possible with notes from the authors. Organized by type: cheatin', novelty, traveling, etc. A gem of a book.
Flanagan, Bill Written In My Soul (Chicago, IL: Contemporary books, Inc., 1986) $16.95
Interviews with songwriters about their different relationships with the muse. Although self-described as featuring rock artists, it includes Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Carl Perkins and Willie Dixon right next to Mick Jagger, Sting and James Taylor. I was captivated by it.
Russell, Tom and Tyson, Sylvia And Then I Wrote (Vancouver, Canada: Arsenel Pulp Press, 1995) $16.95
Run, don't walk, to your favorite bookstore and buy this delightful, funny, thought-provoking book of quotes by songwriters for your favorite scribe. You'll be voted the most popular "friend of a musician" for life.
Braheny, John The Craft and Business of Songwriting (Cincinnati, Ohio: Writer's Digest Books, 1988) $19.95
Braheny does a nice job of living up to his title, dividing his book almost right down the middle. The first half addresses issues relating to creating a work and the latter half focuses on what to do with it once you have it. It's easy to see why his seminars are so popular nationwide.
Klavans, Kent J. Protecting Your Songs and Yourself: The Songwriter's Legal Guide (Cincinnati, Ohio: Writer"s Digest Books, 1989) $15.95
A really good "nuts and bolts" guide to the legal maze that surrounds songwriting. Helps to clarify a lot of things that somehow people never get around to explaining (perhaps because they think we are already supposed to know...Well, I didn't!)
Koller, Fred How To Pitch and Promote Your Own Songs (New York, NY: Allsworth Books, 1996) $18.95
Let me say right up front that I have worked with Fred Koller and have sat in awe in the back of the room for countless songwriting seminars so I am hopelessly biased regarding this book. Fred really knows his way around the world of songwriting and shares that knowledge in this book in a forthright and often amusing way. His talents as a wordsmith are much in evidence and his specifics on how to pitch a song are invaluable.
Pierce, Jennifer Ember The Bottom Line is Money (Westport, CT: The Bold Strummer, 1994) $20.95
Okay, I admit it. I bought it for the title before I got around to noticing the publisher and the price. However, occasionally, even in your stupidity, you get lucky. There is actually some useful stuff in here although it hardly lives up to it's billing as "a comprehensive guide to songwriting and Nashville". Don't pay full price.
Poe, Randy Music Publishing: A Songwriter's Guide (Cincinnati, Ohio: Writer's Digest Books, 1990) $18.95
I had a tough time getting going with this one as I was never able to get interested in his historical approach even though I appreciate the importance of understanding the process that led to our current system for copyrights, mechanicals, etc. Fortunately, that is hardly the final word on the contents of this book and it has lots of important information for any songwriter and is a moderately easy read.
Webb, Jimmy Tunesmith: Inside the Art of Songwriting (New York, NY: Hyperion, 1998 $24.95
Personally, I found this a fascinating read and I actually learned something about songwriting. If you can play the piano and/or read music, I think there is a great more to be gleaned from this book than I was able to get. That not withstanding, I read it avidly right up until the last page.
Block, Lawrence Telling Lies for Fun and Profit (New York, NY: Arbor House, 1981)
In this chatty, informative volume, Block not only provides some down-to-earth advice on writing but also talks about some of the pluses and pitfalls of making your living as a writer. The book, based on a column, grew out of questions he has been asked over the years so it is very much "to the point". He shares a lot of his own experiences which makes this an exceptionally readable book.
Cameron, Julia The Artist's Way (New York, NY: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1992) $14.95
About five years ago, it suddenly seemed like everyone I knew had either bought, just finished reading or was telling me to buy this book. I can see why her suggestions for "gentle exploration" leading to "creative expansion" are so attractive to so many. And I enjoyed them too, even as my inner adult was saying, "This may be a bit more inner child than I am willing to babysit.." However, just the margin quotes are more than worth the price of admission.
Goldberg, Natalie Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within
(Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, 1986) $10.00
Goldberg, Natalie Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life (Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, 1986) $11.95
Goldberg has a warm and readable style that I suspect has inspired many an author. She is an endless source of suggestions designed to help all tap into their creative attributes.
Hugo, Richard The Triggering Town (New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 1979)
Hugo brings a totally unique perspective to the craft of writing and I was enthralled from beginning to end. Just the reading of the book feels like a dynamic, creative process. Surprisingly, I do not like his poetry all that much but I sure loved this book.
Jordan, Barbara L. Songwriters Playground: Innovative Exercises in Creative Songwriting (Boston, MA: Creative Music Publishing, 1994)
I had a tough time finding this (which may be why the publisher lists a phone number in the front: 800.266.7664) but felt it might be worth the search. Since I am not a songwriter, it is hard for me to evaluate whether these exercises would help with a writer's block or help you stretch your boundaries. Just from reading them, however, it looked this was a good start toward getting out of any ruts you might be in.
Maisel, Eric A Life In the Arts (New York, NY: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1992) $15.95
This is aimed at all aspects of the performing arts and I must confess that I was first attracted to the book because it has some of the best margin quotes on the artistic life. It includes some workbook exercises (guided writing, for example) which aren't of much interest to me but might well be useful. He delves into issues on the artistic personality that I haven't noticed many others getting into and presents some fascinating information in that area.
Rilke, Rainier Maria Letters to a Young Poet (Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1993) $6.00
At least 85% of the writers I know seems to own this book and about 40% of them cite it as a major inspiration. That was more than enough for me.
Ueland, Brenda If You Want to Write (Saint Paul, MN: Graywolf Press, 1987) $10.00
Written in 1938, this little gem is truly ageless in it's suggestions and insights. Ueland does a wonderful job of calming the fears inherent in the solitary pursuit of writing and gives a great deal of permission-giving to revere what you do and move at your own pace.
Welty, Eudora One Writer's Beginnings (New York, NY: Time Warner Books, 1983) $7.99
Written when she was 74, the author traces the development of the characteristics that lead to her becoming a writer through her family origins and her growing up. The writing is exquisite and the narrative helps us to see the drama in her life and also our own.
Amusement Business Cavalcade of Acts and Attractions (Nashville, TN: Billboard Music Group) $65 or thereabouts
Updated annually, this is an excellent resource for presenters, listing the contact person, personal manager and basic requirements for an extraordinarily large number of entertainers from national acts on down. I get one every couple of years.
Bond, Sherry Songwriter's & Musician's Guide to Nashville (Cincinnati, Ohio: Writer's Digest Books, 1991) $18.95
Lots of good information all in one place at a reasonable price. Obviously, the contacts info goes out of date relatively quickly but she also includes interviews with "power people" and suggests plans of attack.
Bongiovanni, Gary, Ed. Pollstar Talent Buyer Directory (Fresno, CA: Pollstar, 1999) $65 or thereabouts
Published annually, this is perhaps the best overall resource for festivals and fairs although it also includes clubs, colleges and presenters. Generally includes good info on each place, including dates for festivals, attendance, formats, websites and e-mail. They do a nice job of updating every year. Find out more at www.pollstar.com
Brackett, Nathan, Ed. The Musician's Guide to Touring and Promotion (New York, NY: BPI Communications) $12.95
All right! This is really a magazine (and you will find it in that section of the bookstore..) but I didn't want to create a whole new category. Published semi-annually with a price that has been increasing steadily, this is still great value for the cost. They fearlessly try and cover everything including venues, publishers, college radio, agents, etc. It's really a bit ambitious for 200 pages or so but there is useful info in every category and it's affordable.
Folk Alliance Directory (Washington, DC: North American Folk and Dance Alliance, 2000) $35.00 + $4.00 postage
Originally started by Steve Gillette and Cindy Mangsen, this database of artists, venues, radio and folk music folks evolved into the "Kerrville Directory" and has always been the premiere resource for folk music venues. It was recently taken over and updated by the Folk Alliance. Although still an important resource, it does seem to be a shadow of it's former self right now. Give the Folk Alliance a call at 202.835.3655 to get the particulars on ordering.
Fuchs, Michael, Editor Recording Industry Sourcebook: 1997 (Los Angeles, CA: Ascana Communications, Inc.) $54.95
This source book is put out every two years and is the best compilation of names, addresses and policies on unsolicited material that is available anywhere for almost any area of the music business that you care to mention. It's definitely pricey but an excellent tool - find six proximite friends and get a copy to share at $9 a head.
Levine, Michael The Music Address Book (New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1989)
I bought this off a reminders table for a buck - worth every penny!
Chadbourne, Eugene I Hate The Man Who Runs This Bar: The Survival Guide for Real Musicians (Mix Books, 1998)
Gardner, John The Art of Fiction (New York, NY: Random House, 1983)
Liggett, Mark and Cathy The Complete Book of Songwriting, An Insider's Guide to Making It in the Music Industry (New York, NY: A Plume Books, New American Library, 1985)
Note: Although I haven't read this and it has been recommended to me, I have an innate distrust of "Insider's guides".
Muensch, Teri and Susan Pomerantz Attn: A&R, For Artists and Songwriters, A Step-by-Step Guide into the Music Industry (Van Nuys, CA: Alfred Publishing Co., Inc., 1988)
Pickow, Peter and Amy Appleby The Billboard Book of Songwriting (New York, NY: Billboard Publications, Inc., 1988)
Ryan, John The Production of Culture in the Music Industry: The ASCAP-BMI Controversy (Lanham, Maryland: University Press of Maryland, 1985)
Shemel, Sidney and M. William Krasilovsky More About This Business of Music (New York, NY: Billboard Publications, Inc., 1989)
Zinsser, William On Writing Well (New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1976)
Zollo, Paul Beginning Songwriters Answer Book: 218 Answers to the Questions Songwriters Most Ask (Cincinnati, Ohio: Writer's Digest Books)